Marijuana - It's Pro-Life!
A pamphlet entitled 10 Things Every Parent, Teenager and Teacher
Should Know About Marijuana produced by the Family Council on Drug Awareness
tells us marijuana is not physically addictive. The 1980 Costa Rican study,
the 1975 Jamaican study and the 1972 Nixon Blue Ribbon Report all concluded
that marijuana use does not lead to physical dependency.
The FBI reports that 65 to 75 percent of criminal violence is alcohol-related. On the other hand, Federal Bureau of Narcotics director Harry Anslinger testified before Congress in 1948 that marijuana leads to nonviolence and pacifism.
In a message to Congress on August 2, 1977, President Jimmy Carter insisted: "Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself."
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Law Judge Francis L. Young wrote on September 8, 1988: "Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects. But marijuana is not such a substance. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man."
In the 1990 edition of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, marijuana advocate Jack Herer wrote:
"On a global scale, the most energy efficient plant is hemp, an annually renewable resource able to replace all fossil fuels... suddenly, for whatever reason, we are now in an era when oil is not only prohibitively expensive, but embargoes or wars by foreign nations, e.g., OPEC, Libya, Iran, etc., can virtually hold the U.S. hostage; that's how dependent we are on foreign sources of polluting petroleum products. Biomass conversion to fuels should begin immediately to both stop planetary pollution and make us energy independent."
Years before concern over "peak oil" became a contemporary energy and environmental issue, Herer wrote:
"...when our petroleum resources have dwindled, America will have four choices:
1. Burn all our poisonous coal.
2. Go to war over foreign oil.
3. Cut down our forests for fuel.
4. Grow and process a variety of environmentally safe fuels from biomass.
"Farming only six percent of continental U.S. acreage with biomass would provide all of America's energy needs and end dependence on fossil fuels...
"Legal hemp would return billions of dollars worth of natural resource potential back to the farmers and bring millions of good jobs in energy production to America's heartland. Hemp energy farmers will become our producers of raw materials for many of the nation's needs. Family farms will be saved.
"Hemp grown for fiber will bring the paper and textile industry back to the local communities and out of the hands of the multinational corporations.
"So what's the catch? The 'catch' is obvious: The energy companies! They own most of the petrochemicals, pharmaceutical, liquor, and tobacco companies, and are intertwined with the insurance companies and banks that own them in such a way as to make untangling their various interlocking directorates (plutocracies) a Herculean task for even the most dedicated researcher.
"Many politicians now in power, according to the press, are bought and paid for by the energy companies, and their U.S. government arm is the CIA, a.k.a., 'The Company' (Robert Ludlum, et. al.). The Bush-Quayle administration is uniquely tied to oil, newspapers and pharmaceuticals -- as well as the CIA.
"The world struggle for money is actually a struggle for energy, as it is through energy that we may produce food, shelter, transportation and entertainment.
"It is this struggle which often erupts into open war. It may not be that if we remove the cause, the conflicts will also be removed, but the possibility is strong enough that we must try.
"Ultimately, the world has no other rationale environmental choice but to give up fossil fuels...
"Land reclamation is the final and perhaps most compelling economic and ecological argument for hemp cultivation.
"Until this century, our pioneers and ordinary American farmers used cannabis to clear fields for planting...
"Instead of a National Guard, why not establish a Natural Guard of environmental soldiers to be our front line for survival -- planting trees, harvesting biomass (e.g., hemp) from marginal farm lands?
"A Natural Guard of electricians, plumbers, engineers and laborers who are put to work re-building the infrastructure of America: our roads, bridges, dams, canals, sewers, railroad tracks, etc.
"Isn't this the humane, civilized and socially responsible way to use our human resources, rather than warehousing people like animals in prisons?"
According to Herer, marijuana is biblical:
"And the earth brought forth grass and herb-yielding seed after its kind and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself after is kind: and God saw that it was good."
"God makes the earth yield healing herbs which the prudent man should not neglect."
-- Sirach 38:4 (Catholic Bible)
Rose Evans, a widow and a grandmother, a pro-life Episcopalian fond of Buddhism, and editor and publisher of Harmony: Voices for a Just Future, a "consistent-ethic" periodical on the religious left, favors an end to marijuana prohibition.
Rose wrote in May 1992:
"Polls indicate that 80 percent of Californians would prefer a sentence of life without parole to the death penalty, and support it only because they fear that killers will be released, endangering innocent lives.
"One of the tragic things about the current state of affairs is that almost all of the state's 'liberal' Democrats have come out in support of the death penalty. I've never seen so many 'seamless shroud' types! (As opposed to 'seamless garment' people who oppose the death penalty and abortion, the 'seamless shroud' is an expression to describe the position of those who support both."
In the October 1992 issue of Harmony, Rose wrote:
"Before the Reagan-Bush years, it was unheard of to see people living and sleeping in the streets. Now they are everywhere. San Francisco has a pretty mellow climate, but people died in the streets of hypothermia last year.
"For 27 years, we did not execute anybody. Now we have an active death penalty, we've carried out our first execution, and we have many more people waiting to be killed.
"Our prison population has doubled. (Mostly nonviolent drug convictions.)
"We have many abortions, and many are driven by economic desperation. Medical services for poor people has deteriorated, and some counties don't have one obstetrician who will accept Medi-Cal (our state's version of Medicaid) women as patients. 'Choice' is a joke for women who can't get medical care, housing or any support.
"Tragically, most of our 'liberal Democrats' running for office here are not only supporters of legal abortion, they are also supporters of capital punishment.
"Consistent-ethic folks are in a dilemma... My own solution, like co-editor Carol Crossed's, is to vote as well as I can in these terrible circumstances, but give my work, my money and my energy to JustLife and all the consistent-ethic candidates I can find."
In the July 1993 issue of Harmony, Rose wrote:
"This is a revolutionary change from the dominant ideology. The message coming to us from major centers of power in our society is that our lives are garbage. Our children's lives are garbage, our elders lives are garbage, our brothers' and sisters' lives are garbage, the lives of our infants, developing in the womb, are garbage.
"Some lives are less garbagy, if they are rich, powerful and effective; many lives are especially garbagy, if they are Hispanic or African-American, if they are prisoners, if they have been sentenced, if they are sick, mentally ill, or addicted, if the Executive Branch has declared them enemies (openly or secretly).
"The American high command refuses to count the enemy dead in Iraq, as if these young sons of the poor were garbage. If the President's values were right, peaceful solutions would have been pursued and they would not have been dead.
"If the General's values were right, this war would have been fought with the least possible loss of life, surrenders taken, no one burned alive in retreating columns...
"The death penalty increases, and in an amazing burst of pro-death psychology, even evidence of innocence is dismissed by our courts, and the execution of apparently innocent people proceeds with a very considerable amount of public indifference.
"Police work is unnecessarily violent, from the repeated beatings and killings of arrestees (almost all of them belonging to racial minorities) to the impatient violence of the assault on the Branch Davidians, ignoring the time-proven rules of hostage rescue and confrontation defusing.
"The war on drugs continues to impose savage sentences... One-third of our soaring prison population (including many women and mothers)are jailed on drug charges. Young people who have no hope of meaningful, decently paying jobs, are jailed when they turn to drug dealing, one of the few economic fields open to them.
"The more than a million and a half abortions a year continue, and the medical literature abounds with descriptions of the new techniques for effective abortion of older infants in the late second and third trimester, with their stronger and tougher tissues."
Rose wrote in terms of a secular slippery slope argument, familiar to pro-lifers:
"The killing of children has long been seen as the worst of atrocities, but this is acceptable to many in our ideological wars. Child abuse increases in tandem.
"All of these things have one root: toughness -- a hard indifference; a grasping for quick and violent solutions, no patience, no gentleness, no compassion."
The following page of the July 1993 issue of Harmony contained an article about Reverend Bernice King, the youngest child of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., saying she opposed the death penalty under any circumstances, saying, "Sometimes I struggle with my feelings of anger, but then I remember that my father was a Christian minister who preached a message of forgiveness and nonviolence." Christianity, she pointed out, calls for forgiveness as a way to spiritual wholeness.
The July 1993 issue of Harmony contained an article by writer and activist Jean Blackwood, entitled, "The Pro-Life Movement, Animals and the Environment," in which she wrote:
"Animal rights and environmental supporters do not tend to recognize the inherent value of unborn humans. My membership in PETA got my name on the mailing list for Planned Parenthood!...
"Many of the young people who make up the animal rights and environmental movement grew up with pro-abortion rhetoric in their ears. They can make the mental shift form banning CFCs, outlawing whaling, and abolishing clearcuts to 'a woman's right to choose' with such alacrity that one might suspect no self-contradiction was involved.
"The pro-life movement has some consistence problems too. It's been dominated by some years now by a variety of Christian that is, I believe, more human-centered than God-centered. Homo Sapiens is elevated to such a high status by these people that other living things, in fact the whole earth, becomes just so much stuff to be used.
"One fundamentalist explained it to me -- as the world is going to be zapped by God (pretty soon, I guess) and left as a glowing cinder in space. Not much point in being good stewards of a glowing cinder.
"At least two pro-life Christians have said to me, 'If animals aren't here to eat, what are they here for?'
"I do not know what these people make of chickadees and butterflies. Or dinosaurs.
"Anyhow, if any constructive dialog is to take place among pro-lifers and Greens, then Harmony readers are probably among the best suited groups to begin. But before you begin, take the time to read some of the literature of the other movements.
"I'd especially urge you to read some of the copies of the Animals' Agenda and the books Animal Factories, Christianity and the Rights of Animals, and Diet for a New America.
"Get on the mailing list of a group like PETA or the Humane Society of the United States. Read also magazines like Sienna, Wilderness, and Audobon.
"Read also Thoreau, John Muir, Jeremy Rifkin, Bill McKibben, Wendell Berry, and even Al Gore. (You'll be surprised at how uncomfortable Gore sounds defending abortion.)
"As you read, you'll find things to disagree with, but look for the links, the shared values.
"Now that we've lost our supposedly 'pro-life' administration in Washington, we urgently need to make new friends. A lot of unborn lives are depending on our ability to make them see."
Rose Evans wrote in favor of the the legalization of marijuana for therapeutic (medicinal) purposed during the first half of the '90s. Rose, born in 1928, considered it a crime that many of her elderly friends in her age group, suffering from numerous afflictions, were denied marijuana for medicinal purposes.
After years of suppression by the government, the truth about medical marijuana is finally out. Dr. Tod Mikuriya, former director of marijuana research for the entire federal government, wrote in 1996: "I was hired by the government to provide scientific evidence that marijuana was harmful. As I studied the subject, I began to realize that marijuana was once widely used as a safe and effective medicine. But the government had a different agenda, and I had to resign."
Of all the reasons to legalize marijuana, the most compelling is its medical usage. Marijuana has a wide variety of therapeutic applications, and is frequently helpful in treating the following conditions:
AIDS. Marijuana reduces the nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite caused by both the ailment itself and as a side effect of treatment with AZT and other medicines.
Asthma. Several studies have shown that THC acts as a bronchodilator and reverses bronchial constriction. Although conventional bronchodilators work faster than marijuana, THC has been shown to last longer and with considerably less risk.
Arthritis and Other Autoimmune Diseases. In addition to its effectiveness in controlling the pain associated with arthritis, new evidence shows that marijuana is an autoimmune modulator.
Cancer. Marijuana stimulates the appetite and alleviates nausea and vomiting, common side effects of chemotherapy treatment. People undergoing chemotherapy find that smoking marijuana is an anti-nauseant often more effective than mainstream medications.
Chronic Pain. Marijuana alleviates the debilitating, chronic pain caused by myriad disorders and injuries.
Epilepsy. Marijuana is used as an adjunctive medicine to prevent epileptic seizures. Some patients find that they can reduce dosage of other seizure-control medications while using cannabis.
Glaucoma. Marijuana can reduce intraocular pressure, alleviating pain and slowing (and sometimes stopping) the progress of the condition.
Multiple Sclerosis. Marijuana limits the muscle pain and spasticity caused by the disease, and relieves tremor and unsteady gait.
Muscle Spasm and Spasticity. Medical marijuana has been clinically shown to be effective in relieving these.
Migraine Headaches. Marijuana not only relieves pain, but also inhibits the release of serotonin during attacks.
Paraplegia and Quadriplegia. Many paraplegics and quadriplegics have discovered that cannabis not only relieves their pain better than opiates, but also suppresses their muscle twitches and tremors.
Attending Heald Business College in downtown Oakland in 1996, I overheard two young girls, about 19 or 20 years of age, discussing the upcoming elections.
The first, a white girl, said she was going to vote in favor of the marijuana initiative, saying, "I think I should have marijuana."
The second girl, a black girl, said with amusement, "That's for people with AIDS. They're not gonna give it to you!"
"They don't have to give it to me," replied the first girl. "I get it anyway."
In 1996, California voters passed a law to regulate medical marijuana within the state. In 2000, voters in California approved an initiative allowing people who are arrested for simple possession of drugs to go through a rehabilitation program rather than through the court process that would result in prison. Since the program began, most agree it has been very successful. It results in less recidivism and is considered cheaper than imprisonment.
Tobacco kills about 430,700 each year. Alcohol and alcohol-related diseases and injuries kill about 110,000 per year. Secondhand tobacco smoke kills about 50,000 every year. Aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs kill 7,600 each year. Cocaine kills about 500 yearly alone, and another 2,500 in combination with another drug. Heroin kills about 400 yearly alone, and another 2,500 in combination with another drug. Adverse reactions to prescription drugs total 32,000 per year, while marijuana kills no one.
A November 4, 2002 Time/CNN Poll found 80 percent of those polled felt marijuana should be legal only for medicinal purposes. 72 percent felt recreational users should get fines rather than jail time, which is essentially decriminalization. The complete legalization of marijuana was favored only by 34 percent of respondents, but this figure was twice as large as it was in 1986. Marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco, and our drug laws should reflect reality.
It's obvious marijuana should be legal for medicinal purposes. But what about for recreational use?
Nearly 75 percent of the drug war is directed solely at marijuana, which is safer than alcohol and/or tobacco.
According to a 2003 Zogby poll, two of every five Americans say “the government should treat marijuana the same way it treats alcohol: It should regulate it, control it, tax it, and only make it illegal for children.”
Close to one hundred million Americans, including over half of those between the ages of 18 and 50, have tried marijuana at least once. Military and police recruiters often have no alternative but to ignore past marijuana use by job seekers.
After a Feminists For Life meeting at the University of San Francisco on May 19, 2002, we all met for dinner and dessert at the home of Rose Evans, editor and publisher of Harmony: Voices for a Just Future, a "consistent-ethic" periodical on the religious left.
Rose, who first became vegetarian in the '70s is a sweet old lady: the widow of a university professor, a grandmother, a pro-life Episcopalian, and a political liberal, in favor of legalizing victimless crimes like drugs and prostitution.
During dessert, Rose asked me if I'd like some wine. I politely declined, saying, I don't touch any mind-altering substances, including caffeine.
One woman dinner guest said mildly amused, "That chocolate cake you had for dessert probably contains enough caffeine!"
(Chocolate contains traces of theobromine, a caffeine-like substance.)
Mary Rider, a pro-life vegetarian activist, who was then Executive Director of the Seamless Garment Network (SGN), a coalition of peace and justice organizations on the religious left (opposed to war, abortion, poverty, racism, the arms race, the death penalty and euthanasia) and a *practicing* Catholic (she was pregnant with her eighth child at the time!), on the other hand, was respectful of anyone abstaining from all mind-altering substances, including caffeine.
In December 2007, I was matched on eharmony.com with Deanna, a vegetarian, living in Scottsdale, AZ. Deanna has asthma, and lives in Arizona because of the warm climate: she said even in winter, the daytime temperature doesn't go below 60 degrees.
Because she has asthma, Deanna has never smoked pot in her entire life. When the subject of marijuana came up in a phone conversation, she merely said: "How do you stand the smell?!"
In September 2010, Alice A. Huffman, President of the California State NAACP, called on voters "to regulate and decriminalize marijuana.
"According to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, half of California's marijuana possession arrestees were nonwhite in 1990 and 28% were under age twenty.
"Last year, 62% were nonwhite and 42% were under age twenty. Marijuana possession arrests of youth of color rose from about 3,100 in 1990 to about 16,300 in 2008 -- an arrest surge 300% greater than the rate of population growth in that group.
"If one were to calculate the number of black juvenile and young adult men alone, arrested in 2008 for nonviolent marijuana felony violations - over 5, 600 (and, which includes cultivation of a single plant), the criminal justice cycle entry costs would exceed $1.3 billion annually.
"It is painfully evident that the war on drugs is a terribly failed policy which has a cost that is too high for taxpayers, and our communities.
"Let's keep California on the right side of justice."
Downtown Oakland is now known as "Oaksterdam" with its medical marijuana facilities!
"I don't get angry when my mom smokes pot..."
--Sublime, "What I Got"
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